During a phone call with one of my clients, I begged him not to fire me anytime soon because I had my eye on a 2012 Cadillac SRX. He burst out laughing and then asked how old I was.
Well, you know…I’m in that 35-44 age range like most of The Mommyhood readership.
After our conversation, a text appeared on my cell phone reminding me of my standing appointment for hair color. Without giving that much thought, I moved on to writing my blog post for the week, which had to do with being of Advanced Maternal Age. Still paying little attention to the giant elephant in the room, I went to my mailbox to find my AARP card and membership welcome packet. I posted a picture of it on Facebook and asked if someone knew something I didn’t…(LOL!).
But a few days later, all of the joking and elbow jabbing seemed to hurt instead of humor. My eye doctor informed me that I had a cataract.
Earlier in the week, I had walked out of Books-A-Million with my daughter and commented that something was on fire. “Something’s burning,” I told Maryn. “The smoke is terrible.”
Maryn looked at me with a confused face. “I don’t smell anything,” she replied. Don’t you see it? I prodded.
So, I closed my right eye. Smoke.
Then, I closed my left eye. Clear.
Right eye. Smoke.
Left eye. Clear.
I got in the car and dialed my husband’s office. “I’m seeing a white light,” I stammered. “Do you see Jesus?!” my joker of a spouse asked.
“I’m serious. Something’s not right.”
I “watched it” over the weekend, blaming it on another migraine or a sinus infection, the possibility of conjunctivitis, too much pool chlorine, possibly pulling something loose when I worked in the yard, and every other culprit that could be fixed with minimal care. But when it didn’t go away, I knew I had to call my eye doctor.
After a round of tests, he sat back and announced that I had “quite a nice sized cataract that requires surgery”. Immediately, tears filled both eyes. “I’m a non-smoking, infrequent drinker who eats kale and salmon three times a week. I don’t go to tanning beds and I wear a hat in the sun. “
This was the genetic kind. The kind my mother had.
I remembered what she went through 14 years ago, and I remember how scared she was when she went in for pre-op tests. “They’re going to stick a needle in my eye,” she said. It sounded bad back then, but now….it sounds horrible.
When I left the doctor’s office, I didn’t think about the surgery ahead of me, dubbed “a piece of cake that takes 30 minutes at best”, but of the condition I had inherited … and the one that I feared was still to come.
My mother died of cancer in 2000, which might not have happened had she told someone about the lump in her breast. Instead, she hid her fear and pretended it didn’t exist. When it spread throughout her body and made its hateful resting place in her brain, we knew that she had been keeping a secret for a long time. By then, it was over. She was diagnosed the week of Thanksgiving and she died the week of Christmas. She was 67. I was 27. We were both far too young to lose each other.
There is a touching line in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, in which Jimmy Stewart’s character is seated at the dinner table with his father, discussing his ambitious goals for the future.
“You were born older, George,” his father announces.
Ditto. I was born older. Perhaps it was because my parents had me late in life, or perhaps it was because I was an only child who “played” with adults. I’ve worked in an office setting since I was 16 years old, and I have always had jobs that were about a decade ahead of my time. Looking back, being so mature now seems so premature. Growing up fast became a characteristic that served me well in college interviews, in managerial interviews and in television interviews. Now that I’m seeing gray hairs and white lights, I wish I had allowed myself to be a kid a while longer. But since I can’t turn back the clock, I can insist that my daughters take their time.
So… I have a cataract. It’s not the end of the world. I’m not going to die, and I’m not going to go blind (I hope). But, I’m going to pull on my big girl panties, as a good friend says, and do what needs to be done so I can see my children’s sweet faces.
When it’s all over, I’m buying that Cadillac SRX. And I want the black wrap-around sunglasses to go with it. But they will be Chanel.